Thursday, June 15, 2006

Design a must in the service industry

Last March Irina Blomqvist, a manager at the Finnish institute Culminatum, called me to tell that she was visiting the Netherlands for a study on design. Last week she presented the report. This report was a sequel to the report of the Finnish Governmental group for design. The report has a Finnish name which I cannot translate, but one of the key findingd was the need to strengthen Finnish design agencies and designers as well as the need to boost international contacts between arts and crafts professionals and promote the ability to work internationally.

The new study focuses on Danish and Dutch international design policies. The focus is on market dynamics and the co-operation between different sectors to work internationally.

This study focuses on analysing design as an industry. While the design process is carried out by highly skilled people, often with individual and sometimes artistic ambitions, these people are also employed in commercial companies. The organisation of these companies and their economic condition have profound effects on the quality and impact of design activities. No attempt is made to analyse the trends and the developments of techniques and styles, but it is just design as a market.

The report concludes that design as commercial product/service design exists in a variety of forms:
a. Business-to-Business (B2B) i.e. design services: specialised design companies that supply design services to other business and organisations (e.g. designing a website for a supermarket; designing a house for a construction company; designing components for a car maker);
b. Business-to-Consumer (B2C design products: where the entire value of the products is its design (e.g. designer ornaments and home decorations);
c. Designed products: where design is an important add-on or extra dimension that allows functional products to be sold at much higher process (e.g. designer offce furniture, high-end cars and iPods).

In the study are included both indepent design service providers and enterprises that recognise design as central to their business: as a differntiator, as a process or as an innovator.

At the end of the report there are some recommendations. One is ver well taken: Froms the cases in the Netherlands and Denmark it is clear that sptrong domestic markets for design services have helped design agencies to build a credible service offering. It is all about the strength of the service economies in the countries. So you need to cultivate a strong domestic market for international competition. Another recommendation is that design must be linked to R&D. Design services should be adding value to businesses only if they are part and parcel of R&D, not as extra marketing cost.

I think that Irina and her colleague did a nice job analysing the Finnish, Danish and Dutch design market. It is worthwhile literature. The study Feasibility Study on Design Intensive Industries in Denmark and Holland can be downloaded as pdf for free.


Blog Posting Number: 409

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